County seeks public input on upcoming budget decisions

Several more “Town Hall”-style Mono County budget community meetings in advance of adopting the county’s 2014-2015 budget are scheduled for the coming several weeks following a similar format to last year’s community meetings.

Bridgeport, Crowley Lake, Benton and Walker are still on the calendar this week, beginning Monday, May 12 and continuing through the week. On May 27, the last meeting of all will be held in Benton.

Three meetings have already been completed; one in Mammoth Lakes on May 5, one in Lee Vining on May 7, and one in Walker on May 12.

A fourth meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 13, in Bridgeport, with meetings in Crowley Lake and Benton by May 27.

After the last meeting in Benton, the Mono County Board of Supervisors will hold formal budget hearings during a three-day stint in mid-June, with a final budget expected to be voted on at the June 19 board meeting, according to county authorities.

According to the county, these meetings are in addition to the required public hearing process, and were put in place to help educate the public about budget issues and provide input in shaping county priorities.
The county is facing a $4.7 million budget deficit, which will be county officials’ biggest challenge.

The meetings mark what Mono County Administrator Jim Leddy said Tuesday are a very unusual approach to doing a California county budget, which in most counties, including Mono County until last year, tends to be confined to a formal, several-day public hearing budget process held within the board of supervisors chambers.

Instead, the county is taking the budget hearings directly to the communities in the county, spreading the budget process out over several months, and allowing for much more public input than the previous process.

This is not the only way Mono County is unique, he said, adding that the vast majority of the county staff—in this case 171 employees—got together at an all-day meeting in late April to talk about how respective departments and individuals could help close that budget deficit.

“This is a bottom to top approach that has not been tried,” he said. “It is unique. It was a great meeting. People understand the gravity of what we are facing.”

The community meetings will follow the same format in each community and are being held at night to enable greater participation. The format will include an overview of the county budget including process and timeline; a discussion of economic factors that will affect the 2014-2015 overall budget, and an open discussion forum to provide feedback, ask questions and make budget suggestions for board consideration.

All of the Budget Town Hall meetings will occur from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Prior to the town hall meetings, county budget information will be posted at:

Tuesday, May 13
Bridgeport Memorial Hall
73 North School Street

Crowley Lake
Monday, May 19
Crowley Lake Community Center
58 Pearson Road

Tuesday, May 27
Benton Community Center
58869 S.R. 120

The board will discuss the budget from June 16 to June 18 at a public budget hearing, with an expected adoption of the budget on June 19 during its regular board meeting.